As of April 2016, CNN named Singapore as the best city for expats in Asia. It is no secret that moving to another country isn’t easy as pie. Plans must be comprehensive and practical with clear objectives. Even before buying the one way ticket, make sure you’ve got a job waiting for you.
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FINDING A JOB
- Foreigners must have high qualifications on skills in major industries: banking and finance, maritime services, IT, biomedical sciences, communications and media, chemicals, oil drilling equipment, electronics and precision engineering. It si no secret that even local residents are competing for high paying jobs with premium benefits. Make sure you bring your best foot forward and convince your employer that you are the best choice there is.
- Before you even go here it is better if you already have lined up job interviews with employers especially with Singapore’s major companies: DBS, Vitol Asia, BP Singapore, Exxon Mobil, CapitaLand, Petrochina International, Wilmar International, SK Energy International, Sinochem International Oil, and Shell Eastern Trading. There are some benefits being in a known company. These big companies give good benefits and if you ever need a personal loan for foreigners, money lenders usually prefer borrowers from a company with unparalleled reputation.
- Search for jobs online using a specific word aggregator in Singapore’s well known job websites such as Contact Singapore, Jobs Central – Singapore, HigherEd Jobs, and Jobstreet – Singapore. With online searches you can begin looking around and have an idea on the available jobs in the country. You may also pass you resume and schedule an interview online.
- Work pass has different categories depending on the skill and level. Professionals can have an Employment Pass, EntrePass, or Personalised Employment Pass, while Skilled and semi-skilled workers can have S Pass, or Work Permit for foreign worker/ foreign domestic worker/ confinement nanny/performing artiste.
- Employment pass is given for foreign professionals, managers and executives who have to earn at least $3,300 a month with acceptable qualifications. Entre Pass is for a foreign entrepreneur. Personalized Employment Pass has greater felexibility than the Employment pass and is given to For foreign professionals, managers and executives. Candidates need to earn at least $3,300 a month and have acceptable qualifications.
- S Pass is for a mid-level skilled staff earning at least $2,200 a month. Work Permit for foreign worker is for semi-skilled foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine, process or services sector. Work Permit for foreign domestic worker is given to domestic helpers and Malaysian nannies have permit for confinement nanny. Work Permit for performing artiste is for performers in hotels, nightclubs and bars.
- Trainees and students can work in Singapore with Training Employment Pass, Work Holiday Programme, and , Training Work Permit, while family members should have Dependent’s Pass/Long Term Visit Pass/Letter of Consent.
- Training employment pass is for foreign professionals in current training and has monthly income of at least $3,000 a month. Work Holiday Programme is for students and graduates (18 to 25 years old) who want to work and holiday in Singapore for up to 6 months. Semi-skilled foreign trainees who undergoes practical training in Singapore for up to 6 months can have training work permit.
- As for family members spouses and children of eligible Employment Pass or S Pass holders can have Dependant’s Pass. Long Term Visit Pass is for parents, common-law spouses, step-children or handicapped children of eligible Employment Pass or S Pass holders.
- Your cover letter, resume and portfolio must be in top quality and tailored for the job you are targeting. Keep it clean and presentable. Make sure the supporting documents are available should an employer asked for it.
- Expect to compromise and take jobs that are not your top choice. Singapore’s industry is full of competition. Expect that not all conditions of an offered job will be to your advantage, but remember that you are just starting and as you take care of your career, promotions will come your way.
MOVING IN AS A WORKER IN SINGAPORE
Once you land in Singapore, consider it as no turning back. It is never easy to be in another country with a different culture. Know your rights and responsibilities as Singapore is known for strict implementation of its laws.
- Employed expats are protected under Singapore’s Employment Act except those with managerial & executive positions, domestic workers, seamen, and most of the government staff. Know if you are under its protection and the limitations of this law.
- Employment Act gives additional protection to employees with monthly income of less than SGD 2,000. They are entitled for for rest days, hours of work, annual leave and other conditions of service. The basic salary does not include bonus, overtime, incentives and allowance.
- Expats who acquired Singaporean citizenship are liable to pay income tax and complete the IR8A form. Non-resident expats are required to pay their income tax according to their employment status. Tax returns can be submitted by post or through e-filing at iras.gov.sg. Some employers file the income tax returns of their employees, if they don’t you are responsible for it yourself.
- To import a pet into the country, you need to apply for an AVA license from the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore. There are only certain breeds that can be transported to Singapore. You can check AVA’s website and see the requirements and accepted pets.
- Expect that the country is warm and dry. This will be a challenge for those coming from western countries. Those coming from the tropical countries make adjust well, but those coming from the western countries may need more time.
- Singapore utilizes right hand driving. It will take some time for an expat to adjust if you are used to left hand driving. Make sure that you get used to it by practice to avoid traffic rules violation. You can use your own driving license, but you must convert to Singapore driving license after a year.
- You do not have to worry much coming to Singapore if your first language is English, People in Singapore speak, write and understand English we Even the road and street signs are in English.
- Singaporeans are usually expected to work overtime. They do not complin despite having strict work ethics and they stay at work even in the wee hours.
- The cost of living is high. If you can’t balance your finances, you can get an expat loan from a licensed moneylender recognized by the Registry of Moneylenders. It is hard to get an expat loan in banks because they have brick-and-mortar policies, and they offer very high interest rates, however, online moneylenders have less requirements and can quickly approve your loan in less than a week.
If you decide to set up your own business instead of working under someone else’s company, Singapore is also the best place for you as they welcome foreign investors and businesses in their constantly growing industry. Singapore is known to have a clean government. There is no corruption in the government, rest assured clean transactions are waiting for you.
SETTING UP A BUSINESS IN SINGAPORE
- Meet the eligibility requirements set by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). MOM has the right to review and validate your requirements subject for approval.
- According to Singapore’s regulation, you need to appoint two local agents who are considered as Singapore Ordinarily Residents (can live in Singapore for a long term). This is specially for expats who may not stay in singapore for more than 2 years.
- You must have an EntrePass processed by MOM which is valid for two years. Entre Pass is your pass if you are going o Singapore as an entrepreneur.
- Choose a valid name and then check its availability through ACRA’s online directory of businesses on BizFile. Your company name must be not be provocative.
- Register your business with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) through online at Bizfile. Make sure all the info are correct. Be honest. Open a Singapore bank account.
- Select a location where you will put up your business. If you do not need a physical location, you can use a virtual address.
- Acquire business permits or licenses required according to your business type.
- Open a bank account either locally or offshore. If you need an extra cash, you can apply for a personal loan from an legal moneylending firm. Applying for a loan in banks may take more time than you expect.
- Recruit employees through Singapore’s recruitment portals and agencies.
- If you are putting up a business on finance, banking or insurance, you can approach Monetary Authority of Singapore, as for other industries, feel free to approach International Enterprise Singapore. For legal issues, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority is more than willing to help.
- If you are in doubt, seek advice from a professional service firm. If you need a loan, take some time and visit or call a moneylender’s office. They will immediately evaluate your documents and give extra tips on your finances.
Living in Singapore may be a dream for many, but you also have to work hard to enjoy your worthwhile stay. As an expat, you will need time to adjust to the culture, weather, work ethics and lifestyle. Work may be hard but do not forget to enjoy the opportunity of being in Singapore.
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